Liam Banks ’98, in his second season as head coach of Major League Lacrosse’s Atlanta Blaze, just broke training camp ahead of the team’s season opener in less than two weeks. Here is a preview from Tommy Palasek of MajorLeagueLacrosse.com:
For the Atlanta Blaze, the 2019 season can’t come soon enough. Head Coach Liam Banks is “most excited for June 2nd and our opening game. We have a bad taste in our mouth after losing to Denver in the final game of the year and we are eager to get them the first two weeks of the season.”
Atlanta’s anticipation is a direct result of what Banks called the Blaze’s “most competitive training camp we have ever had.” Banks highlighted the “intensity” and added “we had 40 players competing very hard to secure a roster spot for this upcoming season.”
One thing Blaze fans should be excited about is the team’s new rookies. The Blaze added first overall pick Alex Woodall, defenseman Dylan Gaines, and attacker Brendan Sunday. Coach Banks said on the topic of rookies at training camp, “It was great to see the first steps for some future stars in the league.” He added, “I think all of our rookies are going to make an immediate impact on our team this season.”
Banks also was highly complimentary of defenseman Liam Byrnes. The former Marquette Golden Eagle shut down opposing offenses last year and Banks called him “one of the best in MLL” and said, “I am excited to have him lead our defense this year.”
The Blaze open their season with two consecutive home games against the defending champion Denver Outlaws on June 2 and June 8.
Banks took over as head coach ahead of the 2018 season after the unexpected death of coach Dave Huntley. That season, the franchise’s third, the Blaze finished .500 for the first time at 7-7. Needing one more win to make the playoffs, they lost a 14-15 heartbreaker to the Denver Outlaws, a wrong they hope to right this season.